Heartbroken Westerville officers testify about the day fellow officers were killed

Quentin Smith | Oct. 29, 2019 (WBNS-10TV)
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Day one of testimony in the Quentin Smith murder trial was dominated by emotionally wrenching stories of officers arriving at the scene of their fellow officers' killing.

Smith is charged with the aggravated murders of Westerville Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.

The officers were shot and killed on February 10, 2018, while responding to a 911 hang-up call.

Prosecutors say Quentin Smith beat his wife that day, strangling her nearly unconscious.

Candace Smith called 911 but wasn't able to speak.

Operators dispatched three officers to the apartment: Timothy Ray, Eric Joering, and Anthony Morelli.

Ray, who is now retired, told jurors he went to the back door of the home.

Officers Joering and Morelli were at the front door, when Ray heard gunshots.

"So as I came around, it was the second apartment in from the edge, from the end and I could see a boot sticking out the door. So I ran to that door and as I was going past the first apartment another shot went off," Ray said.

Inside the door, he says he found his fellow officers on the floor.

"I just immediately scanned the apartment, starting from left to go right. I didn't see anything immediately. I did see a gun on the floor. I didn't see the suspect at that first point, and I went around again, there was a stairwell to my right, and at that point I noticed officer Joering laying to my right and as I went back around I saw the feet on the other side of a playpen that was the defendant."

Quentin Smith, Officers Joering and Morelli had all been shot.

"I started to attend to officer Joering. I couldn't do, I couldn't do anything for him," Ray said, his voice catching. "Officer Morelli was yelling he was hit so I moved over to him real quick. And I shook Officer Joering and I yelled at him and I checked his pulse and there was nothing. I moved over to Officer Morelli and he just kept saying he was, he was swinging his arm around saying, 'I'm hit, goddamnit I'm hit.'"

Officers James Mason and Stacy Pentecost arrived, and began trying to save their fellow officers' lives.

"I went over to Officer Morelli. Officer Betts and Pentecost and I were cutting and removing the clothing on Officer Morelli..." Mason paused to collect himself. "...to remove the clothing of Officer Morelli, to find where the gunshot wounds were."

"The medic stood up, the primary medic on Eric stood up, and said 'I'm calling it,' which pissed me off, because that means Eric's gone," said Pentecost through tears.

She said medics attached a chest compression machine to Officer Morelli.

"I asked the medic, 'What can I do to help,' and he said, 'I just need room to work.' So I backed off, and I held Tony's hand," she said. "And I put my hand on his forehead. And Tony had a death stare, if you're fortunate to not know what that is."

"He kept saying he couldn't breathe until his eyes rolled back in his head," testified Mason.

The families of both Officers Joering and Morelli were in the courtroom for Tuesday's very difficult testimony.

Also inside the apartment during the shootout: Candace Smith, the wife of Quentin Smith, and their young child

Candace Smith is set to testify Wednesday.

If convicted, Quentin Smith could face the death penalty.

Watch Tuesday's coverage